How Yoga Allows Athletes to Stay on Top of Their Game

 How Yoga Allows Athletes to Stay on Top of Their Game

Whether you’re a Liverpool fan or not, you’ll probably have seen Mo Salah’s yoga-based goal celebration. Rather than running round the pitch or dropping into a celebratory skid, Salah favors adopting the tree yoga pose. The tree or vrikshasana pose is one of the only standing poses in medieval hatha yoga that is still practiced to this day. This pose helps to improve your balance and can also maximize the stretch in your feet, thighs and hips.

Salah describes himself as a “yoga man” and has been practicing yoga for many years. And with his stunning record on the pitch, it seems like it’s working! So, if you’re passionate about sports betting and have a keen eye for football or soccer (depending on where you are from), it seems like Mo Salah is one to keep an eye on, if he keeps doing those downward facing dogs that is.

And he’s not the only soccer player to benefit from practicing yoga. Players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Silva have also attributed some of their skill on the field to their practice of yoga. But why is yoga such a great benefit for sportspeople?

 How yoga benefits sports stars

The first way practicing yoga can benefit a sportsperson is that it is a great way to build flexibility. This might not seem like a skill on the top of a soccer players list, but when you think of flexibility in terms of range of motion, it’s vital. Improving your range of motion can extend your stride and your reach meaning you’re faster and more dexterous.

This is a skill that is beneficial for all sports players, not just those on the soccer pitch. That’s why sports stars of all varieties work yoga into their daily routines. The former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is considered one of the top football players in his position thus far. Lewis took hour and a half long yoga classes every day to keep himself flexible and this seems to be a contributing factor to his 17-year reign at the Ravens.

Tom Brady is another one of the top NFL players as well as being a household name. He attributes part of his success and longevity in the sport to yoga expressing that “it’s great for flexibility, it’s therapeutic, and great for your attitude.”

Meditation and yoga go hand in hand as exercises that are great for your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing. The reason for this is that yoga focuses a lot on the breath and keeping your breathing regular and controlled. These breathing techniques are useful for keeping a cool head in a stressful situation. The pressure that comes with playing a sport professionally in front of crowds made up of thousands of people is undoubtedly intimidating. That’s why keeping yourself level and focused is of the upmost importance, and yoga can help you achieve that.

Sean Burke, former goalkeeper for the NHL, said that he used yoga “to refocus” his mind when he needs to get in the zone. The mental aspect of yoga is just as important as the physical, especially for sportspeople in high pressure situations.

Although there are many different types of yoga, they all revolve around the idea of stretching your muscles in different poses. It’s common knowledge that stretching before and after exercise are important to help your muscles warm up and cool down as well as easing any tension. This is vital for preventing injuries and yoga goes the extra mile when it comes to reducing the risk of injury. An injury could be career ending for sportspeople so adding yoga into their routine is infinitely beneficial.

Yoga techniques to try yourself

Even if you’re not an athlete, practicing yoga can be great for your overall health and wellbeing. There are poses that suit every level of physical ability and practicing them for a few minutes a day can really make a difference:

Standing forward fold

Standing up tall, fold forward with your back as straight as possible. Keeping your chin tucked into your chest, extend as far down to the floor as you can go. Keep a light bend in your knees and you can slowly bend and release your legs too for a deeper stretch.

Warrior 1 pose

Stand with one foot forward and facing away from you, and the other foot behind and turned out. Keep your weight in the heel of your front foot and raise your arms into the sky without lifting your shoulders. This pose is great for improving balance as well as strengthening your ankles, knees, and hips.

Bridge pose

Lay on your back, keep your feet hip width apart and press up onto your feet so your legs are at a 45-degree angle. Keep your arms pressed flat on the floor and engage your core to ensure you don’t cause any pain in your lower back. As long as your core is engaged, this pose will help strengthen your back muscles, particularly those along the spine. It will also help strengthen your hips, hamstrings, and glutes – a real all body stretch.

Now you’re all limbered up, you can sit back and enjoy watching someone else do all the work for a change.

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